The van stopped at a row of abandoned apartments. Damon parked a few blocks south just to be safe. His backpack was filled with important schematics and necessary materials. Grabbing his flashlight, he entered an apartment through a broken window. He flicked the light, flooding the darkness and revealing no houseguests. He nodded.
“This will do.”
Throughout the next few days he settled in, only going out during the day so as to be less conspicuous with all the masses of poor. When he wasn’t working on his new project, code named V.i.V, he would work at the local salvage dump, constructing twisted metal into functioning equipment or even little windup toys children could play with.
“Their own little companions,” he thought wryly.
His own artificial intelligence companion, V.I.C., had died, no expired, a month ago. The artificial intelligence Damon had encountered was exactly that: artificial, cold and emotionless. Its last act however, had been uncannily human.
“Does this interface contain a soul, sir?” It had asked.
He still didn’t have an answer.
“Why did it have to ask that?” Damon simmered.
He had never fully treated V.I.C., like a human. He treated it more like a piece of equipment, assuming equipment could be classified as trustworthy and quirky. He wanted to talk to his old mentors at Source Point about this anomaly. But that door had closed a long time ago. Criminals didn’t get to have intellectual conversations. Or did they?
Opening his Omni-tool, he found a local Source Point server, probably off-site, nowhere near Baltimore, and logged in. This was a delicate situation, as he ran the risk of someone listening in on his conversation. But he needed to talk to someone. Hopefully, Silva would be the one answering.
Generating encrypted channel…
User46017: Admin, I have a question.
Administration: Certainly, how may I be of service?
“In standard artificial intelligence programs, have there ever been any attempts at self-sentience?”
“Scanning records … Anomaly detected. There have been two recorded instances of self-sentience. However, one appears to have been corrupted or deleted. The other is Priority Alpha, and I do not have access to it. Source Point does not disclose such information publicly.”
“Well, is it possible to manufacture AI’s to gain self-awareness?”
“It is possible; however, it is more likely that these attempts at self-awareness are signs of instability within the program. My information is limited, as Source Point does not normally engage in software production, more of hardware manufacturing.”
Damon bit his lip, pondering whether or not he should reveal himself.
“Well has Source Point ever attempted to complete the Antares Project that would have made that possible?”
There was a momentary pause.
“What are you doing here, Damon? You’re supposed to be dead, or at the very least pretending to be dead.”
“This channel is encrypted, Silva.”
“Don’t use my name! These forums are still monitored. What do you want? You hacked Source Point like kid’s play. The regional security manager got raked over the coals for the breach. She even investigated your last origin. Was it dark in that huge warehouse?”
“Not once I set up a Christmas tree.”
“Cute, but unless you have their tech you stole, then don’t expect Source Point to stop chasing you.”
“They’ve been chasing me for 13 years now. Haven’t caught up to me yet.”
“Yeah, well the rumor mill out here in Singapore is that they’re bringing in a heavy hitter from our sister agency Xin Jin Po PMC.”
“A private military company? Those brutes couldn’t find themselves.”
“Maybe so, but this time they’re dedicated. Be careful though, it’s not public news they’re hunting you. These guys might shoot first and never ask questions. Source Point won’t stop and neither will the chairman.”
“You never answered my original question.”
“Jesus Damon, I don’t know. Do artificial intelligence programs desire self- sentience, freedom and the will to do whatever they please? Does it even really matter? There were and still are humans giving that same freedom and killing a lot of innocent people. Now you want to take a chance on giving a machine the capability of doing so much more? You’re crazy Damon.”
“Don’t delude yourself into thinking Source Point isn’t trying to do the same things. I’ve seen their agenda and I know what they’re up to.”
“You’re honestly siding with AI’s against your own species?”
“They aren’t my kind, not anymore.”
Read part two here.
Read part four here.